France avoids EU penalties over budget deficits

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BRUSSELS (AP) — France is to avoid punishment over its public finances after the European Union gave Paris two more years to meet budget targets.

European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said Wednesday that France now faces a 2017 deadline to get its budget deficit below 3 percent of the country's annual gross domestic product.

France already got a two-year extension in 2013 to comply with guidelines intended to make sure no euro country could run up high deficits.

Despite the respite, Dombrovskis said it's "clear that France needs to step up its efforts."

In a related move, the Commission said the "opening of excessive deficit procedures at this stage are not warranted" for Italy and Belgium. Both have failed to meet targets, which should in theory lead to fines.